Purported Osama bin Laden “American Idol” letters debunked

Eric Pfeiffer
January 13, 2012

FBI officials say they have found the man behind a letter claiming to be from Osama bin Laden. The letter cites American Idol in making several demands and had been sent to several recipients, including schools, law enforcement agencies and religious locations last spring.

TPM reports the typed, two page letter demanded that America disarm its nuclear weapons and arrest a series of unnamed individuals "responsible for unnecessary crimes of War, poverty, and suffering of families in the world" and bring them "to OHare Air Force Base for a live, unedited trial on TV, just like American Idol where people vote to determine results."

According to TPM, the FBI knew the letters were a hoax but sending them is still a crime. And now they've arrested 51-year-old Illinois resident Timothy O'Donnell, whose computer IP address reportedly matched some of the mailing recipients. More from TPM:

According to an August affidavit in support of a search warrant obtained by TPM from the U.S. Attorney's office, O'Donnell was observed visiting the residence connected to the IP address, located on a quiet tree-lined suburban road in Park Ridge, Illinois. Law enforcement agents found an envelope similar to those sent to recipients of the letter in the trash outside his own residence.

At the point the affidavit was written in August, officials had allegedly already connected O'Donnell's fingerprint on the underside of a postage stamp affixed to an envelope containing one of the letters.

O'Donnell had been attending meetings of the Zeitgeist movement, the same group that had drawn the attention of Jared Lee Loughner, charged in the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and several others last February. However, the Zeitgeist movement had banned O'Donnell from their meetings for "extreme" behavior.

O'Donnell has been released on a $5,000 bond.

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